By joe catullo Jr.
On a frigid day better suited for football, three of the top 10 ERA leaders in the Horizon League pitched during a doubleheader at McCune Park on Saturday.
But the strong winds blew towards center field, and Youngstown State and Cleveland State combined for 26 runs, 39 hits and five home runs.
Unfortunately, for the Penguins, CSU swept them during 5-4 and 11-6 victories.
Casey Crozier, fresh off a three-hit shutout and a no-hitter against Detroit earlier this week, held the Vikings (12-17, 3-2) to one run through the first six innings while YSU (8-16, 3-5) scored three in the first inning.
After Dara Toman’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning (her fourth in the last two years at McCune Park), the Vikings scored three more times and took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
“I think their hitters just exploded,” Vicky Rumph said. “They hadn’t done much in the whole game thus far, and that was just the time when they started to hit.”
Rumph answered with a leadoff home run of her own, but the Penguins could not muster the tying run. Crozier, who began the day second in the Horizon League with a 2.10 ERA, finished the complete game loss with five runs allowed (three earned), seven hits, one walk and struck out six.
Vikings starter Alex Radjen, who led the conference with a 1.79 ERA heading into Saturday, also pitched a complete game. She allowed four runs (one earned) on 11 hits, no walks and struck out eight.
In the second game, Kayla Haslett started for YSU and struggled. She allowed six runs (all earned) on six hits, three walks and struck out two but did not get the loss.
“They’re a tough team to match up against,” Rumph said. “Some of these girls hit the ball even when the pitches are working and not even on the plate.”
Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Penguins tallied four runs off Susan Knight, who placed sixth in the conference with a 2.92 ERA. The Vikings then scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning off Hana Somogyi, including a three-run homer from Erica McNew. It was her second of the game. She leads the conference with 12.
“I think they were able to take advantage of a pitch or two here and there,” coach Brian Campbell said. “I’m just proud of how the girls turned around, battled back to make it four runs in a row.”
Rumph also hit a home run in the second game and finished with four RBIs overall.
“I think Vick swung a pretty good bat today,” Campbell said. “She’s been swinging pretty good for us. Vick’s there trying to swing the bat and is being the leader as a senior.”
CSU will go for the three-game sweep today at noon.
“You just got to continue to keep getting your pitch and driving it out there,” Campbell said.